- Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, 2008)
- Red Riding: 1980 (James Marsh, UK, 2009)
- Tatarak (Sweet Rush, Andzrej Wajda, Poland, 2009)
MIFF held a Kore-eda retrospective a couple of years ago and I think I saw them all, or maybe I missed one. Consequently, I was keen to see this latest effort and wasn't disappointed. Basically, it's a day in the lives of a family that unite (begrudgingly) each year to observe the death of a family member thirteen years earlier.
The son, daughter and their respective families travel to the home of their parents, an aging and retired doctor and his wife. It's summer and straight away I'm reminded of Olivier Assayas' sublime Summer Hours, especially the opening scene which similarly depicts the various dispersed branches of a family in an infrequent rural get-together in the family home. While Assayas' film procedes to explore other themes, Kore-eda's remains very much in the small details of the inter-family interactions.
Kore-eda is a very talented director. It is the observational nature of the film in capturing details of otherwise very ordinary people that makes this film a delight to watch. It feels almost a privilege to be privy to their lives, to see what makes them tick. It reminded me of a funeral I attended a couple of years ago for the father of a work colleague. I knew not the deceased man but attended to support my work pal, who had shown me support in various ways after my son's passing. At the funeral, I heard various eulogies that brought tears to my eyes as I received some insights into this man's life. And so I felt with this film, which becomes a meditation on the nature of relationships and ultimately, their passing.
Still Walking is a quietly satisfying film, certainly no headline act, but the type and quality of film I look forward to each year at MIFF, largely because this is the only time of year we get to see films like it. If quiet, nuanced, insightful, contemplative cinema is your thing, you'll want to see it.
Red Riding: 1980
As expected, with James Marsh at the helm, this is a big improvement over the previous instalment (Red Riding: 1974). The story seems to have a closer alignment to the Yorkshire killings, plays out with more realism and is more convincing all-round. Paddy Considine puts in a good performance and all-in-all, this ain't a bad genre film. I'm now looking forward to the final instalment, 1983, tomorrow.
BTW, while there are some slight connections between this and the previous film, you don't need to have seen the earlier one at all. This is self-contained.
It's Wajda in his twilight years; old age is here and death can't be too far away. And so it is with this film, a very strange creature indeed, that requires some further information to glean its meaning. It mixes a film's fiction with events taking place in the life of the film's protagonist and we switch between different 'realities'.
Technically, the talent is obvious and the visuals are very nice. A bit more narrative clarity would have been nice. By the end, I had some idea of what it's about and, if you ever consider seeing it, make sure you read up about it first.